Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth hour makes me cranky

A symbolic event is meant to give you the warm fuzzies. Instead, like Andie MacDowell in “Sex, Lies and Videotape” it brings out my neuroses wondering where all the garbage or in this case real ecology altering policies, have gone. Flicking off our lights for an hour a year is meant to generate the heat of a groundswell movement but unfortunately it just makes me break out into a dose of the crankies.

In a vast sunburnt country like Australia you’d have thought that successive governments would have approached an impending fossil fuel shortage by harnessing the abundant, renewable, natural resources. But sadly, the politicians have been in the pocket of the coal industry and monies initially earmarked for solar development got rerouted into “clean coal” technology. This oxymoron continues to keep us on the climate change train, with the add ons of pollutants and radionuclides as well. While everyone seems to like the idea of wind power, those who face the prospect of having a wind farm in their backyard do not. As visually intrusive as these generators may be, it’s not half as ugly or polluting as strip mining for coal.

Projections 20 years ago had the cost of solar cells down to an affordable level through mass production. Sadly that has not happened. We are also driving bigger cars, even more amazingly still, on petrol and diesel. We have more electricity sucking technology in our homes, which glow through the day and night with LED lights on standby. Our public transport system has been privatised. The trams and trains once the pride of Melbourne have now descended into a commuter nightmare with cancellations, over crowding and rising prices, let alone the thugs that have been employed to police it for fare evasion.

But tonight some well meaning souls will head off to dine in a candle lit restaurant (will the kitchen be darkened and everyone content to sit on a drink without ice for over an hour as well?) feeling like they are making a difference. With less than 5% of businesses in the city signing up, mostly for the publicity generated by the tokenism of switching off their lights, organisers accept that the Big Switch will not actually account for any significant reduction in power demand. It’s Symbolic.

A friend and supporter of Earth Hour pointed out that the recent Apology was also symbolic. But the difference in this case is who did it. If industry, the biggest carbon polluters, got behind the event then that would be a fair comparison. While local councils and individuals have been saying Sorry to the indigenous people of this land for many years, it did not pack the punch of an entire parliament getting in on the act.

Last year, the Big Flick began in Sydney with a little support from other States. This year is it global. Let’s hope, now that it has garnered so much attention there will be accurate reportage of the event, especially by it’s sponsors.

So will I be flicking off the lights this year? I don’t know. If I’m at the cinema the lights will be off but perhaps they’ll have some athletic type in lycra spinning some pedal power to keep the projector going?

Now if everyone who does engage in the symbolism of the event began lobbying their State and Federal ministers with the threat of switching their vote to The Greens (the only party that has real policies to tackle climate change), that really could have make a difference.

Think about it.

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Anonymous kitchen hand said...

Well said. The steel nerve required to generate public policy has drowned in a sea of faux consultation and a fixation with 'symbolic' public eventism, like a kindergarten class of children being told to put their hands on their heads.

2:03 pm  
Blogger dysthymiac said...

oh Hear Hear!

It is ridiculous to suppress any domestic use of any resource, while simultaneously ignoring massive commercial frittering of the same resources, eg
zillions of globes lighting Southland into tropical indoor daylight, versus me turning off the 17 globes in my entire house for one, two or 14 hours.

8:24 pm  
Blogger grocer said...

FINALLY! I wholeheartedly agree this is token symbolism at full tilt. Do you think those people at the candlelit dinners drove their V8 commodores and falcons, or d'ya reckon they walked?

9:36 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

I've been talking to people about getting rid of the TV lately. Someone responded by saying "just like earth hour!" They said that those 60 minutes seemed so long without the TV on. Oh well, at least they didn't watch TV by candle light!

9:42 am  
Anonymous The Swan said...

Yes! One hour without the lights on, and suddenly we can tick 'energy consumption' off the To-Do list. It doesn't work on so many levels.

11:37 am  

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